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Friday, 14 May, 1999, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Star Wars tickets on sale
star wars fan
This fan in California got lucky
The first tickets to see the Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace have gone on sale in the US - and have been snapped up by eager fans.

Star Wars
Enthusiasts across the US put up with long queues, engaged phone lines and clogged-up Websites - as well as heavy rain across parts of the country - to get tickets for the film's opening day on Wednesday.

Despite the enormous hype, some fans were surprised by the attention they received when they bought tickets.

star wars
Fan Lincoln Gaskin celebrates outside Mann's Chinese Theatre
Welder Johnny Shipman, 25, waited a week in line at a cinema in Augusta, Georgia, and was the first to buy tickets after seven days of taunts from passers-by.

He said: "It was just intense. Cameras all in front of me, news crews and everything. It was more than I expected."

In Ames, Iowa, Lee Dahlhauser spent the night camped out in driving rain covered in blankets and sheets of plastic. "I've been waiting 16 years for this," Dahlhauser said.

Advance tickets only went on sale after cinema owners put pressure on director and producer George Lucas. He initially banned early sales after fears ticket touts would muscle in. Tickets are restricted to 12 per person.

The original Star Wars premiered at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood in 1977. Twenty-two years on, fans have been queuing up for the new film forweeks.

The line - which can be viewed on the countingdown.com Website - now stretches along Hollywood Boulevard, down a side street and onto the next block.

star wars
Lining up for tickets in New York
Another fan, Susanna Modjallal, said: "It's important we see it on opening day at Mann's Chinese Theatre. If Lucas thought it was good enough go premiere here, it's good enough for me."

In New York, 13-year-old Cody Hoffman skipped school to queue. "For all I know, my teacher is in line at some other theatre," he said.

But one fan, in Portland, Oregon, was not enjoying the experience. Gabe Elliot was surrounded by people who sang Star Wars music and recited Monty Python quotes.

"I'm surrounded by psychos," he said.

One US phone-booking service, MovieFone, found its circuits jammed even though it had added extra lines. Its Website was also swamped.

Director of marketing Christine Fakundiny said: "The demand has been greater than expected. But people are getting through and we are processing them. The advice for the war weary is keep trying."

See also:

12 May 99 | Entertainment
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